Violence is held back for this solid adaptation
Despite a spectacular set – a crumbling quarry of bricks overshadowing the actors – and a solid ensemble cast, Get Carter lacks the dynamic ferocity of the film and stumbles between grand themes and more brutal action. Based on the novel Jack Returns Home, which inspired the iconic film starring Michael Caine, Torben Betts’ script adds some depth to the characters, picking out the tense family conflicts that drive Carter (Kevin Walton). Yet attempts to foreshadow the coming of Thatcherism and brief reflections on Newcastle’s industrial past only complicate and confuse the dramatic energy of the revenge tragedy.
In common with many adaptations, the desire to include as much as possible - including those scenes which made the film memorable, extends the length of the show, and one dramatic confrontation is expanded by drum solos between the speeches, effectively replacing taut tension with interludes from a progressive rock concert.
While the ghostly presence of Frank’s murdered brother adds a layer of familial tension, the decision to soften Frank’s brutality, through scenes with his niece and conveniently shifting one vicious murder off-stage, sacrifices the savagery for a more acceptable anti-hero. Neither committing to a socio-political message, nor bold enough to expose the sheer nastiness of Newcastle’s 1960s’ underworld, this production, while serviceable, relies heavily on nostalgia for the film without commenting on its violence or suggesting that there is any clear reason for staging this new adaptation beyond basking in the glow of the sources.Yet it is a fine spectacle that retells the story and has the requisite amount of sensational moments – especially those involving torture or stand-offs – to hold the attention.